Five ways to stick to your New Year’s resolutions
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.”
~ John Pierpont “J.P.” Morgan
I love new beginnings! Each January 1 fills me with hope and a longing for growth and change. The idea of starting the year afresh fills me with ideas for how I would like my life to unfold.
Like many people, perhaps you as well, I have not always been successful in following through with the intentions, goals or resolutions I set for the new year.
And, I’m definitely getting better at it. Here’s a short story of one successful new year’s resolution.
One year, I decided that my No. 1 resolution would be to floss my teeth each and every day. So first, yes, I have to confess that I would sometimes neglect to floss my teeth when I was feeling really tired before bedtime. So, my goal was to floss regardless of how tired I was because I knew it was something the future me would be grateful for.
And, I did it. Even when I was really tired. Even when I went to bed without flossing – I got up and flossed. Woohoo! It was something really small and at the end of the year I was delighted to have accomplished this goal. And, years later, the habit is still with me.
Here’s why this resolution worked for me. It was:
- Small. It only took a couple of minutes each day.
- Motivational: Good dental health is a great motivation for me. I don’t really want to spend more time in the dentist’s chair than I have to no matter how wonderful a human being my dentist might be!
- Achievable: My goal was very specific. No big grandiose dream of revolutionising my life – just one small daily action built into my bedtime routine.
- Realistic: Can I spare 2 minutes of my day to floss my teeth? Yes! And my future self achieves a bigger goal of good health. (Expert tip: this is how to make your big resolutions achievable – break them down into small measurable tasks!)
- Trackable: This was easy. Either I did it or I didn’t – no ambiguity. It was scheduled – each day at bedtime. And, on top of that, I told other people I was doing it. That way I felt committed to carry through on what I promised myself. Those who love me also wanted me to succeed, so I would get asked from time to time if I was still on track. To be truthful, they mostly asked because they thought I was silly for making such a specific resolution. Nonetheless, by asking they help me stay motivated.
So, what can you do today that will take you one step closer to your 2019 goals?
What I have outlined above is what In the world of business would be called a SMART goal. For each letter, choose one of the words that best resonates with your resolution.
S – specific, significant, stretching
M – measurable, meaningful, motivational
A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable
It’s great to dream big when making new year’s resolutions. In fact, I think it is a lot of fun. What I have learned over time, though, is to follow up my big dreams with specific actions that take me towards my goals. I will not keep me resolutions unless I have a plan. And, I like my plan to be SMART!
Happy new year and best wishes for a fulfilling year of sticking with your resolutions!